Calvary Road Baptist Church

“LIFTING UP YOUR SOUL UNTO GOD”

Psalm 25.1

 

My text for this evening is found in the 25th Psalm. Please turn there at this time, and when you find that portion of God’s Word please stand.

Rather than reading Psalm 25.1-2, I would like Brother Isenberger to come and lead us as we sing those two verses. Many of you remember singing this when you were young, but perhaps you young people here this evening can learn this brief hymn.

 

Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.

O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.

 

A few interesting facts about this particular psalm written by David before we focus on our text, which is the first verse of this 25th Psalm. John Gill, and others, informs us that this 25th Psalm is an acrostic psalm, making it a bit unusual:

 

This is the first of the psalms which is written in an alphabetical order, or in which the first word of every verse begins with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in order . . . .[1]

 

The other acrostic Psalms are the 34th, the 37th, the 111th, the 112th, the 119th (which is the longest of the Psalms), and the 145th Psalm.[2] Listen to the wonderful word pictures painted for us about this Psalm by our beloved Mr. Spurgeon:

 

Ver. 1. “Unto thee, O Lord.” - See how the holy soul flies to its God like a dove to its cote. When the storm winds are out, the Lord’s vessels put about and make for their well remembered harbour of refuge. What a mercy that the Lord will condescend to hear our cries in time of trouble, although we may have almost forgotten him in our hours of fancied prosperity. “Unto thee, O Jehovah, do I lift up my soul.” It is but a mockery to uplift the hands and the eyes unless we also bring our souls into our devotions. True prayer may be described as the soul rising from earth to have fellowship with heaven; it is taking a journey upon Jacob’s ladder, leaving our cares and fears at the foot, and meeting with a covenant God at the top. Very often the soul cannot rise, she has lost her wings, and is heavy and earth bound; more like a burrowing mole than a soaring eagle. At such dull seasons we must not give over prayer, but must, by God’s assistance, exert all our powers to lift up our hearts. Let faith be the lever and grace be the arm, and the dead lump will yet be stirred. But what a lift it has sometimes proved! With all our tugging and straining we have been utterly defeated, until the heavenly loadstone of our Saviour’s love has displayed its omnipotent attractions, and then our hearts have gone up to our Beloved like mounting flames of fire.[3]

 

May I try my hand at drawing a word picture of prayer for you?

Hebrews 4.16 bids the child of God to approach God’s throne in prayer: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Because God is on His throne in heaven and I am presently earthbound, it is required that I pray to my Father by means of faith. This is possible because of the indwelling Spirit of God within me. I am a time-bound creature of flesh, and my tendency is to walk by sight and not by faith. Therefore, I am incompetent in my praying, and desperately need the help of the Holy Spirit to approach the throne of God’s grace in prayer. Thankfully, Romans 8.26-27 provides incredible encouragement to me:

 

26     Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

27     And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

 

In case you doubt the involvement of all three persons of the Triune godhead in a believer’s prayer, let your eyes fall to Romans 8.34, where Paul assures us with these words: “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” To complete the picture, turn to Isaiah 6.1-5:

 

1      In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

2      Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

3      And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

4      And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

5      Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

 

This was Isaiah’s glimpse of our Lord Jesus Christ in all His preincarnate glory in the throne room in heaven.

Although the scene is somewhat different now, since the Lord Jesus Christ is clothed in glorified human flesh now that He is born of the virgin Mary, died for my sins, and then raised up from the dead, there are two similarities I want to point out that remain the same from Isaiah’s day to our day:

First, the Lord Jesus Christ is now in heaven in all His glory, just as He was when Isaiah saw Him high and lifted up. He is seated at the right hand of the Father on high, let no one doubt or deny that.

Next, take note of the angels, those seraphim. They are still crying “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” As well, the posts of the door are still moving at that sound of their voices, and the house is still filled with smoke.

Another thing that is different is that I need not cry “Woe is me! for I am undone.” You see, in Isaiah’s day his sins were merely atoned for by the blood of an animal sacrifice, temporarily hiding his sins from God’s sight. But my sins are washed clean away in the blood of Jesus Christ, First John 1.7: “. . . the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Hebrews 8.12 reminds us that God said, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” We are reminded yet again in Hebrews 10.17: “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

Thus, my Christian friend, with the Holy Spirit prompting my prayer, with the Lord Jesus Christ as my advocate at the Father’s right hand, and with the confidence that my sins are washed by the Savior’s blood, I can mount up on the wings of faith to heaven in prayer, rush past the cherubim guarding the door to the throne room, even drawing closer than those burning ones, the seraphim, as they cry “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts.”

How close may I approach? I am bidden to come to the very throne of grace itself, with my entrance assured by the One Who sits at the Father’s right hand. No wonder Paul claimed, in Ephesians 2.18, “through him we . . . have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

Now that I am kneeling before the throne of grace, what am I actually doing when I pray to my heavenly Father? Picture your prayer as kneeling before Him, lifting up your own soul as an offering for Him to receive from you. “Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.”

That is how David saw himself when he prayed, and that is how you can see yourself when you pray. When you calm your heart and dismiss the clutter of distracting thoughts from your mind, approach God’s throne of grace by faith and, once there and bowed before the One Who is terrible in majesty, lift up to Him your soul.

Three remarks about this remarkable verse on prayer:

 

First, THE OBJECT OF YOUR PRAYING

 

To whom do you pray when you pray? David prayed to Jehovah. But to which person of the Triune godhead does the Christian rightly pray? Jesus Christ is surely the Object of a sinner’s saving faith, but who is to be the Object of the Christian’s prayer?

We do not pray to the Holy Spirit, for He is the intercessor Who indwells us and effectively originates the genuine prayers of all Christians. Neither do we pray to the Lord Jesus Christ, our mediator and advocate, for He clearly directed His apostles to pray after this manner, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” Your prayers are to be directed to the Father, as opposed to His Son or the blessed Holy Spirit. However, do not be so hard on yourself if you prayed in your ignorance to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Such a mistake is easily corrected. What is wickedness is lifting up your soul to vanity. Notice what David wrote in Psalm 24.3-4:

 

3      Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

4      He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

 

Want to be one who is invited to the throne of grace? Want to be one who can approach God in prayer and expect your pleas to be heard by the King of all glory? Want to ascend into the hill of the LORD? What to stand in His holy place? David tells us you must have clean hands and a pure heart. David tells us you cannot be one who has lifted up your soul to anyone but God, since anyone but God is really nothing, is vanity, is emptiness.

Turn to Psalm 86.1-4:

 

1      Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy.

2      Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.

3      Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily.

4      Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

 

Now, turn to another psalm of David, Psalm 143.8, a song of prayer:

“Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”

 

Therefore, you see, this picture of lifting up your soul to God and to God alone is deeply embedded in David’s psalms and prayers. Therefore, as your relationship with God is unique and unlike no other relationship you will ever have, so your praying should be unique as to their Object, directed to God alone as the Object of your prayers. You seek His will and no one else’s, His supply and no one else’s, His approval and no one else’s, His glory and no one else’s.

 

Next, THE OCCUPATION OF YOUR PRAYING

 

While it is true that all praying involves asking and receiving, underlying your asking of God and your receiving from God is the reality that by your praying and in your praying you are giving to God. Read Leviticus 9 and 22, and Numbers 7, and you will see frequent reference made to offering the sacrifice of peace.

Imagine the Israelite coming to the Tabernacle in the wilderness, not to offer a blood offering to atone for sins, but to offer a peace offering, either as an expression of thanks to God or for pleading with God to answer a prayer. In like manner, the child of God in prayer, when he lifts up his soul unto God, is giving to God a peace offering. So thankful for the privilege of approaching Him and praying to Him, the child of God offers to God his soul afresh and anew, a recommitment as well as a fresh recognition of God’s rule over his life.

We are not sinless who know Christ. Therefore, we cannot place our souls on the altar of God and leave them there, as though a commitment once made will be a commitment kept forever. We are sinful creatures and not capable of that kind of consistency, not able to serve and worship God with that kind of faithfulness. Therefore, it is not like you present your soul to God in prayer once and that is it.

Turn to Romans 12.1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Here Paul challenges the Roman Christians to constantly present their bodies as living sacrifices to God. In our text, David sets the example of constantly presenting His own soul to God, every time he approaches God in prayer.

My friend, the praying and offering of the soul by the Christian must precede the presentation of your body as a living sacrifice, because your body will never go where your soul has not been first. So, when you go to God in prayer and ask Him for something, keep in mind that before you ever ask Him for anything you are actually giving something to Him. You are giving Him your soul, offering it up as a gift to Him, a sacrifice if you will.

 

Finally, THE OBSTACLE TO YOUR PRAYING

 

Have you ever watched the growth of flowers, as they turn their faces toward the sun, which they depend upon for life-giving energy. So it is with the child of God, who turns his face toward the God of glory, His heavenly Father, the Meeter of all his needs and Supplier of every good thing. Why should we not turn to God in prayer at every opportunity? Does not James 1.17 proclaim to us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”?

However, we see in our text that my soul, just as your soul, does not naturally rise up toward God. There is no natural affinity that my soul, or that your soul, has for our gracious heavenly Father. For you see, we have this problem with sin. Our souls are weighted down by it. Our souls are burdened by it.

That is why presenting the soul to God in the act of worship which is genuine prayer requires lifting. To worship God, to pray to God, I must lift up my soul, because it does not naturally rise up to meet its God. This is why praying is always difficult. This is why praying can be so burdensome. There is resistance. There is opposition. There is a weight to one’s soul that requires some musculature for praying. This is why praying requires discipline, training, exertion, effort, determination, dedication, and a strong desire that must be fed, nourished, and encouraged.

The very obstacle to your praying is that which you lift up to God when your praying begins, your own soul. Your soul is the eternal part of you. It is that portion of your existence, which is made in the image, and likeness of God. It is that part of you most severely damaged by sin. Finally, it is that part of you, and the only part of you, which is redeemable.

Jesus does not save bodies. They are left behind and then recreated glorious bodies. Neither does Jesus save personalities. We are constantly called on to die to self so the Holy Spirit can remake our nasty personalities into those, which are Christ-like. However, Jesus does save souls.

Thus, you hoist your saved soul heavenward in prayer. The soul that Jesus has saved is the acceptable sacrifice to present to God when you come to His throne of grace.

 

Have you ever imagined praying in this way? Have you pictured yourself mounting up with wings of faith, instantaneously hurtling across the galaxies of God’s great universe to immediately come to the door leading into God’s throne room?

As you collect your thoughts and focus yourself, you are actually passing briskly the cherubims at the doorway of the throne room, past the seraphims, those burning ones who are praising Him, and bowing on your knees at His feet before the throne.

Your lips part, your voice begins to sound, your mouth forms the first word of your prayer, and you at that moment lift up your soul to God.

When Abram gave his tithe to Melchizedek, he later told the king of Sodom that he had lift up his hand to “the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth.”[4] What a great honor it is to, by tithing, lift up your hand to God. What a tragedy it is when the child of God has the opportunity to lift up his hand to the “the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,” yet he values the money he clenches in his tight first more than he values the opportunity he had of lifting up his hand to God.

However, when you pray you lift up your soul to God. What an incredible privilege for the child of God. What an awesome opportunity and privilege prayer affords the child of God.

By way of contrast, what can the unconverted person do who attempts to pray to God? What can he lift up to God? If he lifts up a sin-stained and filthy soul to God in an attempt to pray he accomplishes nothing at all.

All the lost can do is cry aloud for mercy from afar off. How important it is, then, for the lost man to simply come to Jesus and be saved.



[1] John Gill, The Collected Writings of John Gill - Version 2.0, (Paris, AK: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., 2000-2003)

[2] Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury Of David, Volume I, (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers), page 397.

[3] Ibid., page 391.

[4] Genesis 14.22

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org